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November 19, 2007, 8:41 PM CT

Less is more when fighting crime

Less is more when fighting crime
Both crime and prison populations could be reduced dramatically by focusing on the "power few" criminals who commit the most crime, as per Lawrence Sherman, Director of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Criminology at Cambridge University, UK. His paper will be published online this week in Springer's Journal of Experimental Criminology.

Using data across a wide range of research, Sherman shows that most crime is committed by a small fraction of all criminals, at a tiny fraction of all locations, against a tiny fraction of all victims, during a few hours a week. By focusing police, probation, parole, rehabilitation, security and prison resources on these "power few" units with the most crime, the study shows how society could stand a far better chance at crime prevention without raising costs.

"Billions of dollars in criminal justice costs are wasted each year on people and places with almost no risk of serious violent crime," said Sherman, "while the high-risk targets receive far too little attention." Citing rising homicide rates in Philadelphia since 2002, his research shows how more rehabilitation for a tiny number of offenders may have been able to prevent a number of of the murders.

The study shows that the key to making the most out of these extreme concentrations of crime would be to test prevention strategies aimed only at these few crime locations, times, situations, victims or offenders. By investing more effort in experiments aimed at finding effective solutions to the predictably serious crime problem caused by the "needles in the haystack," governments around the world could move much quicker to reducing crime and violence. By investing equal effort in low-risk and high-risk offenders, these strategies now yield unequal results - wasting most of the money on targets unlikely to cause serious harm.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source

Tue, 20 Nov 2007 01:48:21 GMT

A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods
This past weekend I participated in a seminar called 21st Century Landscape Literacy at Apeiron Institute for Environmental Living in Coventry, RI. Apeiron''s mission is to promote sustainable living practices and ecologically healthy communities in southeastern New England. On their property, they''ve built an eco-house using green building practices. (You can take a virtual tour here, it’s really cool.) Apeiron held this seminar to teach people how "to read our lands remembering the ''old ways'' and with new technologies toward sustainable relations."
The seminar lived up to its promise by combining modern and historical ways of understanding land. It began with a presentation on geographic information systems, or GIS. I write about GIS occasionally for one of my clients, but have never actually seen it in action. With GIS databases and software, you can search specific parcels of land, sometimes by plat or lot number, or by address. You can view a "bird''s eye" view of the property using online aerial photography, or see a mapped outline. We learned how to eyeball potential property boundaries like streams and old stone walls, a typical boundary marker here in New England.

There''s expensive software that you can buy and learn to use-frankly it didn''t seem all that user-friendly-but there''s also a lot of free databases on the web, if you know where to find them. (They didn''t seem all that user-friendly either but hey, they''re free.) Almost every state has an online GIS database-google the name of your state +GIS and you should be able to find it.

GIS databases have a ton of data, apparently entered over the last 20 years by geology grad students. The data ranges from meteorological and geological data to the location of sewer lines , endangered species, community wellheads, and sewer lines. You can call up different datasets and "overlay" the data on top of the base map or aerial photo of the piece of property you’re interested in. You can apply multiple layers and analyze your property in various ways.

After lunch came the historical part of the seminar. We took a walk on Apeiron''s property and learned visual ways to "read" the landscape. For example, you can learn a lot about a piece of forested land with an old stone wall by examining the size of the stones in the wall. A forest with a stone wall was usually either used for grazing cattle or for agriculture. If the stones are small, it means the field was probably used for agriculture-the fist-sized stones so common in New England''s soil would''ve torn up many plough blades. The landowner would have integrated the smaller stones into his stone wall. There are a lot of other methods like this discussed in a great book called by Tom Wessels-highly recommended reading if you hang out in the woods, especially in New England.

Next, we discovered a third and very different way of relating to the landscape. We listened to Native American readings and talked about how the deep knowledge of the land, akin to a oneness with the land, has been all but lost in today''s society. We were encouraged to imagine how our ancestors knew and used the land. We then entered the woods as a group but spread out so that each person found a special place that spoke to us. We stayed in this place for a little while and let it speak to us, and then we returned to classroom.

Here''s what I thought about, in sort of a progression as I moved through the woods. As I looked for a "special spot," I was first acutely aware of the other class participants. I heard them crunching the leaves as they walked and from the corner of my eyes, I could see their colorful coats and jeans. Then as we spread farther away from each other, I felt more alone. First, everyone was around, and then they weren''t-it was kind of a spooky transition. Even though I knew exactly how to get back to the classroom, the feeling of being alone in the woods was a little unnerving.

At first, I felt like a kid again, because I used to explore in the woods all the time, by myself and with my brothers. I didn''t know and didn''t care who owned the 20-or-so acre wooded lot behind our house, I never even thought about it. My brothers and I explored it every day that the weather allowed, for too many years than I can count. There were no trails....we simply explored everywhere, climbing trees and hills, digging holes, buiilding forts and tree houses, that kind of thing.

Which brings me back to my weekend walk in the woods. As I soaked in the spooky "alone" feeling, I realized that the exact same feeling used to thrill me when I was a kid. But as an adult, whenever I go into the woods, it''s a much more "civilized" experience. I always know who owns the property-I would never dream of trespassing on someone else''s land. Whenever I''m in the woods now, I''m on public or perhaps private conservation land. There''s usually a trail map, so you won''t get lost. You don''t go "off-trail" and explore. The spooky-yet-thrilling feeling of being alone in the woods doesn''t really exist anymore.

It made me kinda sad-I felt the loss of a childhood experience that I didn’t realize I missed. But it was still a good experience, mostly because it was so thought-provoking. Thanks to the good people at Apeiron Institute for the interesting and free opportunity to learn.

Next time I''m in the woods, though, I think I''ll climb a tree.

Posted by: Caroline Brown      Read more     Source

Tue, 20 Nov 2007 01:02:17 GMT


"Robert Zemeckis''s Beowulf is so rousingly entertaining that you''ll feel guilty for not reading the epic poem all the way through when you were in ninth grade," announces Alonso Duralde at MSNBC. "[S]creenwriters Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary have taken broad liberties with the ancient text, although their departures translate to the screen quite well for the most part."

"It is pop. But as pop goes, it''s damned good pop," writes David Poland, who insists that you see it in 3D, preferably IMAX 3D.

Updated through 11/17.

Posted by: dwhudson      Read more     Source

Fri, 02 Nov 2007 00:52:52 GMT

The Art Of Sharpening Pencils

The Art Of Sharpening Pencils
Welcome to the world of pencil sharpening. This may sound like a dull topic but there is actually a lot more to it than you think. There are a number of different sharpening styles and methods; all good artists should know them. The trick is using the right one at the right time.

There are four main points to select from; the one you choose will depend on the type of pencil you use, and the style of your drawing. These are: the standard point, the chisel point, the needle point, and the bullet point.

(via Everlasting Blort)

Posted by: Gerard      Read more     Source

Mon, 22 Oct 2007 01:48:07 GMT

Two Businesse

Two Businesse
Some of us have trouble just dealing with one business. Here is a woman who not only deals with one business but two, plus also has a family to deal with.

What I found interesting was that the two businesses do not compliment each other. She says that the biggest problem she has is getting the word out. In her case she needs to get it out twice because promoting one business does not promote the other.

However, once again it shows that if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

To see the full article: Busy mom balances dual business ventures

Posted by: John Dornoff      Read more     Source

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 00:34:29 GMT

Angry Wasps

A fallen rock was blocking a route in Afghanistan and EOD decided to blow it up. A wasp hive was found under the rock and they were not happy!

Posted by: Gerard      Read more     Source

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 21:33:30 GMT

Carmen Sandiego Found

Carmen Sandiego Found
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is the title of an edutainment computer game that teaches geography. The game first appeared in 1985 and was created by Brøderbund Software.

Now, 22 years later, Carmen Sandiego has been found. She was spotted in an American train station.

(via Boing Boing)

Posted by: Gerard      Read more     Source

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 21:25:05 GMT

DVDs, 10-9

DVDs, 10-9
The Center for Visual Music is rolling out what sound like two amazing collections, Oscar Fischinger: Ten Films and Jordan Belson: 5 Essential Films. "Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967) was one of the earliest pioneers of abstract animation, placing him in the company of filmmakers like Walter Ruttmann and Hans Richter, who were working only a few years after Kandinsky's first entirely nonrepresentational painting in 1910," Doug Cummings reminds us, while Belson "began his career as a painter, moved into animation and experimental film, and later joined electronic composer Henry Jacobs to create psychedelic Vortex Concerts at a planetarium in San Francisco in the late-50s. Like many Beats, Belson was highly influenced by Eastern mysticism and he began formulating abstract, audiovisual presentations that often utilized circular motifs, solar imagery, lasers, star fields, and billowing, ethereal vapors."

Posted by: dwhudson      Read more     Source

Wed, 10 Oct 2007 02:40:36 GMT

Give Your Kids A Green Screen!

Give Your Kids A Green Screen!
One popular thing at our nearby Chuck E. Cheese is a kind of "green screen" where kids stand in front of a TV camera pointed at a blue screen. The kids can see themselves projected into whatever inane video is running on the screen. It's a neat, if cheesy effect.

Now you can bring that cheesy effect into your home with the reasonably-priced Creation Station. Comes with software that makes it easy to put in some pre-selected cotnent or whatever you want. And when you're done, publish to YouTube or other sites with a click of the mouse.

Forget the kids, this might be fun for a budding video podcaster.

Product Page on Amazon via Coolest Gadgets

Posted by: Dameon Welch-Abemathy      Read more     Source

Mon, 08 Oct 2007 22:40:24 GMT

Feeding Frenzy

Feeding Frenzy
Several weeks ago when Libby and I were at Roundrock, we fed some fast food biscuit to the wild fish in the diminished lake. I used my new camera to make a short 33 second video of it, and with the patient help of my web master, my web designer, my web master’s brother-in-law, and my web designer’s brother (the last two being the same person), I was able to bring it to you here.

You can hear the rasping of the insects, which is a nice touch. That was something I had not even considered until I saw the video the first time. As I recall, the bullfrogs were croaking earlier, and the woodpeckers had been drumming too. Maybe I’ll be able to catch some of that if I ever pull this off again.

With such a tiny camera, I’ll need a steady hand if I’m going to try bringing you other videos in the future.

Missouri calendar:

  • Listen for the trill of field crickets.
  • Peak of fall color begins.

Posted by: Roundrockjournal      Read more     Source

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